How to Design a Restaurant That Maximises Natural Light

Studies show that spending time in natural light improves our mood, increases our overall happiness, and helps us to relax and feel settled.

Now, don’t those sound like things that you want your diners to experience when they visit your restaurant?

If the answer is yes (which it should be!) then keep reading – as we unlock the secrets to designing a restaurant which maximises its access to natural light.

Understanding the Basics of Natural Light

Natural light is, in short, light that comes from a natural source – i.e., the sun.

Not only does natural light bring a certain aesthetic appeal to an interior setting, but it is exceptionally energy efficient (sunlight is, after all, free of charge), and has a positive impact on the diner experience. It makes the food on the place look better, it makes the restaurant feel brighter and more welcoming, and it delivers that good mood boost that we all want our diners to feel before they tuck into their meal.

Suffice to say, the reasons for wanting natural light in your restaurant are clear – so much so that technology is increasingly being used to replicate that light and deliver levels that mimic an outside space.

So, how can you maximise exposure to that natural light in your restaurant?

Site Selection and Initial Planning

The first touchpoint of any new restaurant is the selection of the site – and if natural light is a priority, then it’s important to choose a site that facilitates and supports that.

When selecting a location for your restaurant, pay attention to the accessibility of natural light at different times during the day – looking at window placement and how large the windows are, as well as whether they need expanding or moving to emphasise sunlight.

Orientation is another major player in determining where and when the sun is at its best throughout your restaurant, with most restaurant designers designing the space around the movement of the sun.

Architectural Design Strategies

It’s not just windows that can help to maximise the flow of light. Skylights are another popular solution to help optimise the flow of sunlight, as are glass doors and transparent partitions which create a physical barrier between different spaces but without impacting the flow of light.

Skylight window in a restaurant

While open floor plans are ideal for enhancing the distribution of natural light, they are not always practical when creating an immersive and engaging dining environment. So, tapping into some of these clear but defined design strategies will help you to achieve restaurant floor segmentation without obstructing light flow.

Interior Design Considerations

Once the site and set up have been planned out, it’s time to consider the intricacies of your restaurant interior design.

This is where it becomes important to select colour tones that compliment natural light, materials and finishes that reflect and emphasise light, and furnishings which add to the light and airy feel of your space.

Some tips to consider:

  • Selecting light colour tones, emphasising texture as an aesthetic detail rather than colour. Too much colour can make a space feel crowded and darker.
  • Opting for glossy tiles and light wood surfaces which reflect light.
  • Focussing on the movement and flow of natural light when placing furniture, so you don’t close off corners and areas of the room.

Innovative Technologies and Solutions

We’ve already mentioned the rise of artificial light which is designed specifically to emanate and mimic the look and intensity of the sun at different times of the day.

But what other solutions could you use to maximise natural light?

Light shelves and mirrors are a good way to distribute light and to ensure that any natural light that enters the restaurant floor is reflected and maximised to its full effect. When it gets dark, having different levels of light systems can help to replace the natural light and support the curation of a relaxing and calm environment – often combining large overhead systems with targeted candlelight and more intimate lighting solutions for diners to enjoy.

Challenges and their Solutions

Of course, no restaurant design project would be complete without a few challenges and underlying considerations.

For one thing, natural light is only available until the sun goes down, and so it’s important to support all natural light sources with sufficient artificial lighting which kicks in for evening dining and when the natural light is not sufficiently brightening your space.

It is also important to consider the privacy concerns that could be linked with lots of windows and glass fronted restaurant floors, as having lots of transparent glass can leave diners feeling exposed – and make it difficult to section off private dining spaces. Consider frosted or tinted glass, strategic awnings, and the overall layout of your restaurant as a key touchpoint.

Another challenge to consider is climate control, specifically ensuring that your restaurant does not get too hot with lots of glass surrounding the dining space. Maximising sunlight can leave a room feeling excessively hot, which is why having different environmental controls in place is important for year-round diner comfort and enjoyment.

Embrace Natural Light in your Restaurant

Bring positive energy into your restaurant with nature’s brightest asset – combining all of the above tips and tricks with some specific advice and help from the Carroll Design team. Simply get in touch with us to book a consultation and to discuss your project with a member of the team.

Share Post :